Liverpool boss: Leiva will fill the Alonso gap

Rafael Benitez is confident Brazilian Lucas Leiva can fill the role left by Xabi Alonso's departure.

Rafael Benitez is confident Brazilian Lucas Leiva can fill the role left by Xabi Alonso's departure.

He said: "Lucas has been best the player in pre-season. He showed why again against Atletico. He is really focused, working hard and is showing quality.

"He knows Aquilani will need time. When we decided to bring in Aquilani we knew he would be out for one month or so, so we analysed the squad and we think that with Javier Mascherano, Lucas, Steven Gerrard and Damien Plessis we have enough (strength in depth)."

For the 22 year old, this is a great chance to win over the Anfield fans, who dished out plenty of criticism last season.

Lucas said: "I am always ready and now Xabi is gone I hope there will be more opportunities for me.

"I am just working hard in training to try to earn a position in the team.

"I have played a lot of minutes in pre-season and that has given me more confidence. I am feeling better and hopefully it will be a good season for me."

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